Amazing, isn’t it, that the 100th 1M/1M roundtable is now upon us? I find myself surprised at how time has flown by and also at how far we have come. This is a fitting moment to reflect on the journey for a few minutes. It is also a good time to give you an update on where we are.
In September 2008, when the first Entrepreneur Journeys book was released, D.D. Ganguly, CEO of DimDim, suggested that we organized “virtual book readings” over their platform. I thought about it, but decided to experiment with a more interactive format. That was the birth of our online strategy roundtables where we invited entrepreneurs to pitch and discuss their strategy in a reality show mode.
Through the spring of 2010, we released four volumes of EJ books and continued to experiment with the roundtables, which became increasingly popular. Meanwhile, in January 2010 my New Year’s resolution was published.
Through the Entrepreneur Journeys project, I have come to conclude that the most vulnerable phase in an entrepreneur’s life is the pre-$1 million revenue stage. This is where numerous ventures fail. Once the $1 million revenue milestone is crossed, entrepreneurs find it easier to find additional customers, manage working capital, and access funding, whether it is credit or equity.
In my roundtables, the vast majority of entrepreneurs I work with are in this rather vulnerable pre $1 million revenue stage.
Thus, I have come to the conclusion that if I could help a million entrepreneurs globally reach $1 million in revenue (and beyond), that would be the foundation of a robust, distributed, and sustainable economic value creation that would add up to a trillion dollars in global GDP. It would also result in creating at least 10 million jobs around the world.
Over the course of 2010, the work did gain momentum, and we were joined by many of our readers from around the world who decided to make this resolution their own. By April 2010, the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) global initiative had been formally named. By November 2010, we launched the 1M/1M website, including an early version of the premium program.
And today, we have a group of early adopter premium members who are making good use of the program. Over approximately 100 roundtables, I have personally coached more than 400 early-stage entrepreneurs, and between the free and the premium program, as well as the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn we have a community of more than 200,000 people engaged in the initiative at various levels.
Through this journey, we have raised the visibility of fundamental issues like the causes of exorbitantly high infant entrepreneur mortality, and alerted the entrepreneur community with a simple observation:
Entrepreneurship = (Customer + Revenue + Profits); Financing is Optional
Our community has successfully established a culture of bootstrapping as a counterforce to the compulsive rush to financing that entrepreneurs mistakenly often engage in, only to be rejected over and again by investors. This, of course, doesn’t mean that we discourage entrepreneurs to seek financing. It simply means that our methodology prepares them better if they do decide to raise capital, as well as calibrate their fundability at different points of the journey.
And finally, we have defined 1M/1M as a framework for capitalism 2.0, a distributed, democratic model of capitalism.
So, what are entrepreneurs doing in 1M/1M today?
They are using the programt to first and foremost validate their ideas with customers. They are using the core 1M/1M curriculum to learn creative bootstrapping, techniques for laser sharp positioning, capital efficient customer validation, and thorough, bottom-up market sizing that is rooted in validated business model and pricing model assumptions. They are using the program for both techniques and channels of customer acquisition. And they are learning and practicing team building strategies that are appropriate for the bootstrapping stage.
And yes, they are learning what it takes to raise financing, and we are helping some of them successfully raise capital, negotiating term sheets, including complex issues like liquidation preferences, tranche financing, and of course, improving valuation.
But I do not think if suffices for you to read these dry words. You need to get a feel for what’s happening in 1M/1M. So, on October 6, 2011, on the occasion of our 100th roundtable, we have put together an exciting program to have you meet some of the entrepreneurs from different parts of the world in a video conference. They will tell you about their businesses and share with you how they are using 1M/1M.
Friends, please save the date to meet some of the 1M/1M premium entrepreneurs October 6. You can register for the event here.